Association of sexual orientation with self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use in adolescents and youths in Mexico
Background: Evidence of sexual orientation-associated health inequities has obtained from industrialized countries. However, the situation of lesbians, gay males, and bisexuals (LGB) from middle- or low-income countries could be worse. The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship of sexual orientation with self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use among Mexican adolescents and youths. In addition, we explored whether this relationship was mediated by discrimination and violence.
Methods: The National Youth Survey’s data base (N=12,796) that contains information of a representative sample of Mexican adolescents and youths between 12 and 29 years of age was analyzed. Three dimensions of sexual orientation (affective attraction, sexual behavior, and identity) were assessed. The events studied included self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use.
Results: Compared with heterosexuals, LGB more frequently reported having experienced family violence, crimes, and violations of their rights and smoking >5 cigarettes per day. Among males, being gay or bisexual exhibited a higher risk of self-rating health as poor (odds ratio [OR] = 9.47). In comparison with heterosexual women, those being lesbian and bisexual were more likely to consume alcohol (OR = 3.40). Nonetheless, differences in self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use according to sexual orientation were nearly not explained by violence and discrimination experience.
Conclusions: We concluded that lesbian and bisexual females have a higher prevalence of cigarette and alcohol use, although this may be the result of the difficulties they faced due to the homophobia prevailing in Mexico. Nevertheless, it is also necessary to explore other possible explanations, such as transgression of gender stereotypes or perception of stigma.
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